Thrust is the most important thing you should consider when buying a trolling motor. It tells you if it is powerful enough to push your boat at the right speed.
Thrust is measured in pounds (lb) and gives you a rough idea about the motor’s performance. If your boat is heavy, you will need a trolling motor with more thrust to get it moving.
In this article, we go through trolling motors organized by thrust levels and discuss everything you should know to decide how much thrust you need.
Let’s get started.
How to Calculate the Amount of Thrust you Need?
Boat weight is the single most important factor here. A generally agreed rule is that for every 100 lbs, you will need at least 2 lbs of thrust.
For example, if your boat weighs 4000 lbs, fully loaded, you want 4000/100 * 2 lbs = 80 lbs of thrust for your trolling motor.
Water conditions, where and how you use your motor should also impact your decision. You need relatively little thrust on flat lakes, where the above-calculated minimum thrust will be just fine.
If you tend to fish in areas with fast currents and significant waves, you should pick a higher thrust and more powerful trolling motor, which will perform well in adverse conditions.
Recommended Motor Thrust Levels
You can see a rough guide on how much thrust is required for different boat sizes in the chart below.
|Boat Weight||Boat Length||Recommended|
|under 1500 lb||under 15 ft||over 30 lb||1 Battery (12V)|
|1500 lb||15 ft||40 lb||1 Battery (12V)|
|2000 lb||16 ft||50 lb||1 Battery (12V)|
|2500 lb||17 ft||60 lb||1 Battery (12V)|
|3000 lb||18 ft||70 lb||2 Batteries (24V)|
|3500 lb||19 ft||80 lb||2 Batteries (24V)|
|4000 lb||20 ft||90 lb||2 Batteries (24V)|
|4500 lb||21 ft||100 lb||3 Batteries (36V)|
|over 4500 lb||over 21 ft||over 100 lb||3 Batteries (36V)|
As you can see, depending on the amount of thrust, a trolling motor requires a different number of batteries.
For 60 lbs of thrust or less, you’ll need a single 12V battery. 70 to 100 lbs of thrust will require 2 batteries (24 volts), and above 100 lbs of thrust, you’ll need another battery for 36 Volts in total.
Trolling Motors by Thrust Levels
30 lb Thrust Trolling Motors
Trolling motors with 30 pounds of thrust are usually transom-mounted and are a great choice for kayaks and canoes.
They are powered by a single 12-volt battery and draw roughly 30 amps at maximum.
55 lb Thrust Trolling Motors
Almost double the thrust over 30-lb motors, but they still run on 12-volts. (single battery)
55 lb trolling motors are suitable for small to medium-sized boats, roughly up to 2500 pounds of displacement.
80 lb Thrust Trolling Motors
Trolling motors with 80 pounds of thrust run on 24 volts and are suitable for boats up to 4,000 lb.
24-volt motors are more powerful and usually have more advanced features than 12V models. They require two 12V batteries connected in series.
100+ lb Thrust Trolling Motors
Trolling motors with over 100 pounds of thrust are great for heavy boats. Extra thrust is also handy if you fish in windy conditions, with significant waves and currents.
Exact thrust varies depending on the manufacturer: for Minn Kota it’s 112 lb, and for Lowrance Ghost as well as Garmin Force it’s a whopping 120 lb of thrust!
They all run on 36 Volts, which requires three 12-volt batteries connected in series.
Trolling Motor Thrust FAQ
Does More Thrust Mean More Speed?
Not necessarily. Thrust is all about pulling power, not speed. That’s what trolling motors are designed for. You need a high thrust trolling motor to move a large boat at a reasonable speed (3-4mph) or keep in a fixed position if your motor is equipped with GPS. If you want to go fast, you will have to use a much more powerful outboard or inboard engine.
Have a look at our speed chart to get an idea of what top speed you can expect from different trolling motor and boat combinations.
How fast will a 55 lb thrust trolling motor go?
You can expect 4-5 mph, assuming it’s a lightly loaded boat, no current and the weather conditions are perfect.
How many horsepower is 55 lbs of thrust?
A 55 lb thrust trolling motor can be roughly compared with a 0.8hp gas outboard motor. The easiest way to know the horsepower rating of any electric motor is to know the maximum power in Watts and dividing it by 746, so that we can convert Watts to Hp.
For example, if a 55 lb thrust trolling motor has a power output of 600W, you can divide 600/746 = 0.8hp.
If you don’t know the maximum power output of your motor, you can obtain it by multiplying the motor’s voltage by its maximum Amp draw.
How much thrust should a canoe trolling motor have?
It depends on the weight of your canoe. For a lighter 600-pound canoe, we recommend a minimum of a 30 lb thrust. If your canoe is in the 1000-pound range, consider getting a 55 lb motor. In both cases you need only a single 12V battery.
How many amps does a 55 lb thrust trolling motor draw?
Most 55 lb trolling motors draw between 45 and 55A. It’s usually recommended you use a 60 Amp circuit breaker for them.
Will two trolling motors make you go faster?
If you have an undersized motor for your boat, let’s say a 30 lb trolling motor for a pontoon, then adding an extra motor will definitely help move the boat faster.
On the other hand, if you add a second trolling motor to a light kayak, you will unlikely increase your speed. With a single trolling motor, your kayak is already moving close to the maximum speed the motor can provide. With two motors, you’re certain to increase the weight and the total amp draw, not so much the overall speed.